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Digital postcards from the road

June 26, 2017

Before I head of to Alpe d’Huez at the end of the week to ride the Marmotte, here’s a column I wrote for Cycling Active last year about my annual pilgrimage. This year I ‘plan’ to make my PB attempt during the Grimpee de l‘Alpe first thing Friday morning after the long drive down. Maybe in the heat of battle I will improve on my time, you never know, let’s wait and see.

Each year, come hell or high water I make a pilgrimage to Alpe d ‘Huez to test myself on it’s cruel slopes, and that time has now come. There can be no more talk of scales and training, of diets or intervals, it’s too late now, what will be, will be. It’s always a logistical struggle to squeeze my attempt into a family holiday and because of my ritual we never fly south, we always drive, yes, just so daddy can ride up a stupid mountain! My attempt often comes at the end of the nine hour trek from Calais which isn’t good for anyone’s legs, so this year I built some leeway into the schedule so I could ride the following mo...

June 20, 2017

I’ve just come back from spending the weekend at the awesome Eroica Britannia cycling festival. Three days of vintage bikes, music, food, drink, fun and lots of sun. It’s the first time I’d been to the festival and also the first time I’d ever had a stand to sell my books at an event. I went filled with excitement, and a little trepidation as I was to be giving a talk on the Saturday evening in the beer tent, no pressure! Anyone who’s ever had a stall at a festival before will be able to relate to me when I say that even though you are there and part of it, you don’t actually get to see much of it. Now don’t get me wrong, I had a brilliant time, met loads of readers, had many a heated debate about the merits of this climb or that climb and also sold a fair few books which was nice. From behind my table though, in the increasingly muggy air of our large tent, out through the open side, there in front of me every time I looked up all I saw were the assorted tables that made up the bike j...

June 12, 2017

Look at the two road coverings below, both have appeared on my local lanes over the previous weeks and both applied by the same council. The one on the left is a pure pleasure to ride, as smooth as silk and as fast as lightning, were as the one on the right, a hideous, dangerous, gravel track suitable for nothing but agricultural machinery.

Let’s consider the one on the right first, and yes you’ve guessed it, it’s the dreaded, the despicable, the unbearable, ‘chip and seal’. Summer is the season when cash strapped councils take it upon themselves to seemingly randomly dump tonnes of gravel on your favourite country lanes rendering them useless and more importantly freaking dangerous for cycling. We’ve all experienced it, instead of fixing holes or laying a nice new topping the common practice is to simply spread a thin layer of tar the width of the road then chuck a load of stones on it, stick up a warning sign, then p*ss off to let traffic bed them in. Why? Because it’s cheap, because...

June 7, 2017

Once a year I like to drive the family down to Italy for a week of pizza, frescos and hopefully sun, not fly, drive. Yes it is a long way, yes, it takes two days instead of two hours, and yes, the kids fight in the back the entire way turning my beloved Skoda Octavia into a quagmire of half chewed sweets, Lego and torn paper. If you fly though, if you choose the easy option, there is one huge drawback, you can’t midway through the journey, park up, jump out and ride your bike up a mountain. You see I’m happy to put up with the arguments, the mess, the hours behind the wheel because the reward is my annual fix of spending a solid hour or more pounding a glorious incline, sweeping round bend after bend surrounded by the awesome beauty of the Alps.

I must make it clear that the main premise for the trip is a family holiday, but there’s always time to squeeze in a mountain or two here and there, because if there’s a will, and there is a will, then there’s a way. Normally I route us via Bo...

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May 18, 2018

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Britain's Greatest

Cycling Climbs BOX SET

Comprising a total of 545 ascents from the tip of Cornwall all the way up to the highlands of Scotland, the eight region-specific volumes of Britain’s Greatest Cycling Climbs contain the most comprehensive documentation of Britain’s hills ever compiled for road cyclists.

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